On Sunday (March 10th) I took part in the Gay Pride Parade (with FIU) on South Beach, which is part of a larger three day festival – Miami Beach Gay Pride.
The mission of Miami Beach Gay Pride is to bring together members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, their friends, allies, and supporters in celebration of the unique spirit and culture of the LGBTQ community. Miami Beach Gay Pride organizes free, safe, quality, mass-appeal events that are open to all, including the annual parade and festival, which features community booths and expo areas, stages with entertainment, food and drink vendors and family-safe play areas. Additionally, Miami Beach Gay Pride produces educational, cultural and entertainment events and activities throughout the year and sanctions official Pride-related events in order to create a truly celebratory experience for the whole community.
Why did I March In the Gay Parade?
I marched in the Gay Pride Parade because I believe in social justice and the right for anyone to pursue happiness.
As a white female, I have the privileges of being white but I nevertheless face female issues. I face the struggle of fighting for the rights of my body and women health services. I face the daily issue of having to keep in check how I act or dress because it is my job to make sure that I do not tempt or distract men with my woman sexuality. I face the fact that I could be sexually assaulted and never see my assaulter be punished by our law system for violating my body.
However, I am not gay. I don’t know what it’s like to not have my family reject my sexual orientation. I don’t know what it’s like to have to fight for the right to marry my loved one of the same sex. I don’t know what it’s like to be in the closet and face the possibility of not being accepted by my family and friends. I don’t know what it’s like to be bullied for my sexual orientation.
But despite not being gay, I do know that this is not only my issue, but our issue. It becomes our issue when gay marriage becomes a topic of political debate. It becomes our issue when individuals commit suicide because they are bullied about their sexual orientation. It becomes our issue when people are denied jobs because of their sexual orientation despite the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. It becomes our issue when a same-sex couple is harassed in public for displaying signs of affection.
Who are we to deny someone the right to happiness?
As individuals, and as a society, we should be in the constant pursuit of social equality and justice. The unalienable right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness is imbedded within the United States’ Declaration of Independence. To deny anyone certain rights is to degrade them as second rate citizens. To in any way hinder the rights of someone is to directly contradict and weaken the principles on which the United States was built upon.
My parents, both immigrants from Poland, tell me stories of their childhood under the Communist Regime. It’s difficult for me to imagine not having the right to achieve economic prosperity or to not have the freedom to leave the country. Being an American born in the 1990’s, I don’t know what it’s like to have my freedoms restricted by the government. Most of us (of my generation) don’t know what it’s like to have to fight for basic freedoms or liberties – we were born with freedoms. However, this Gay Pride festival and other events cast light on the fact that certain groups still have to fight for their freedoms.
The fight for equal rights and against discrimination should not be left to those that are oppressed; whether it be us women who fight for equal pay and the rights over our bodies, black people who support the #blacklivematter movement that exposes the systemic racial injustices that they face every day, hispanics that are given the prejudicial label that they are ‘murders’ and ‘rapists’, or the LGBT community’s fight for acceptance. The simple reason for it is this: if an oppressed individual such as a gay man points out an act of discrimination then the complaint will be merely seen as ‘gay over-sensitivity’. It takes the help of members outside of the oppressed minority to expose the discrimination of policies and behaviors within our society. The LGBT group (like any other group) cannot successfully achieve equality and acceptance into society without the help of allies. These allies may not necessarily be affected by that specific plight but they recognize that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Allies are not only those that take part in social activism, but those that simply accept and support these changes.
If one minority groups freedoms are in jeopardy, then we must all take action. A true democratic government cannot be sustained in a society where certain groups of individuals are denied their liberties. What is the value of the “unalienable right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness” if they are only reserved to a select group?